NBA News: Grizzlies maul Clippers, Heat wilt Knickerbockers
3DW View: For just the second time this series, Memphis came out with purpose and determination, blitzing the Clippers 36-22 in the opening stanza. For the first time in the series, Marc Gasol demanded the ball and got it in the paint, finishing with 23 points and 7-for-8 from the free throw line. The typical Grizzlies defense returned batting balls in the passing lanes and pushing Los Angeles players off their marks on the floor.
The rest of game Memphis just held serve, being outscored by two points the last three quarters, but their style had to be a confidence-builder heading back to L.A. with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul both hobbled by injuries. The Clippers front office and fans hope their stars can heal quickly for Friday night’s affair and look for a sixth straight victory at the Staples Center (3-2 ATS) over Memphis.
I don’t know if Miami will win the NBA championship this year, but I really like the way they played against New York and I cannot wait to see how they play against Indiana. The Heat took control of Game 5 from the start and if you noticed, they have gotten back to emphasizing their strengths, defense and speed.
Miami has flaws, but coach Erik Spoelstra has done a better job covering them up by sticking with what his club does best and trying to have their weaker areas (center play and interior defense) be a push against opponents. That won’t be as easy with each progressive round as opposing coaches look to negate what Miami does best and exploit their weaknesses, but you do get the feeling this is a different Heat club.
One last point, Carmelo Anthony will receive some credit for trying to save the Knicks who were undermined by injury in this series. Melo and LeBron James each scored 139 points in the series, but it took Anthony 34 more shots (27.5 percent) to match LeBron’s efficiency.
NBA News: Closing Time?
3DW View: The group, Semisonic, had a popular yet annoying song in 1997 called “Closing Time” (rated the 19th most annoying song ever by Rolling Stone magazine). For three teams, they get a second chance to close a first round NBA series.
The No. 8 seed Philadelphia can pull the biggest shocker by upsetting Chicago, who is not the same team because of injuries. This doesn’t matter, because the first team to four wins in a series moves on regardless. This could be a real snoozer to watch since the early morning total for Game 6 had dipped down to 169. If the 76ers want to win this series, the time is now and they have to push the ball since has been mentioned here before, they are 8-26 SU and ATS when they score 93 or fewer points. The Sixers have shot over 40 percent just once in their last seven contests.
Boston got what they wanted, a home court matchup against Atlanta to finish off the series. The Celtics really only have to be better in one aspect in this encounter to close-out the series, be mentally stronger than the Hawks for four quarters, which they should be able to do. Atlanta is 9-24 ATS in their last 33 road playoff games.
The Lakers did not take Denver seriously enough and got burned and will have to bring their game-face to end the series in the Mile High City. Los Angeles needs to control the pace, force the ball inside to Andrew Bynum and have him kick it out to Paul Gasol and Kobe Bryant for jump shots when covered. LA/1 is the underdog and is only 16-19 on the road this season.
NHL News: Plucky Capitals force Game 7
3DW View: For the 12th time in 13 tilts, Washington played a one-goal game and is headed to another decisive Game 7 on the road with their 2-1 victory last evening. The Caps scored an early power play goal and later built a 2-0 lead, but saw that lead cut in half with just 51 seconds remaining in the game. However, the defense and netminder Braden Holtby never caved in and they were especially sharp killing penalties, negating all five of the Rangers power play attempts.
The deciding game is Saturday night at MSG and anything is possible.
MLB News: Mets sweep Phillies in Philly
3DW View: Yes, the baseball is still very young. Teams that rise like May flowers often wilt and die away come September, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to live in the now and enjoy the moment if you are one of those teams.
New York won all three games in Philadelphia, not so much by beating Roy Halladay, Joe Blanton and Cliff Lee; rather they exploited a Phillies weakness, their bullpen. Of the 22 runs the Metropolitans manufactured, 13 came against Philadelphia relievers, each giving New York the margin of victory they needed.
Are the Mets really NL East contenders, probably not, but they sure look a lot more competitive than the last place Phillies.
MLB News: Boston fails again
3DW View: It is not a good thing when your season is punctuated with phrases like “this hasn’t happened since….” or “the last time (fill in the team) lost in this manner was ….”
After being swept at Fenway by Baltimore for the first time in 18 years, the Red Sox lost a road series to Kansas City for the first time since six years. Jon Lester was a losing pitcher against the Royals for the first time since Aug. of 2006 and K.C. starter Bruce Chen won for the first time this season. Chen had not been a winning pitcher versus Boston since 2005.
MLB News: Baseball Notes
3DW View: How good has Jake Peavy of the White Sox been this season. After last night Peavy is:
- 4-1, 1.89 ERA, with just 11 runs allowed in seven starts.
- Tied with Felix Hernandez for most innings pitched.
- .189 batting average allowed, .221 OBP allowed (third behind only Matt Cain and Jered Weaver), .482 OPS allowed (fifth).
- Strikeout/walk ratio of 44 to 7, third-best behind Cole Hamels and Bronson Arroyo. (from ESPN.com)
Ervin Santana finally got into the win column for the Los Angeles Angels, breaking a 0-6 start. Santana had to be giddy with excitement seeing his teammates scoring runs for him (six in all), since his previous five starts the Halos were shutout each time.
Miami returns home after an 8-1 road trip.